Electric vehicles for COP17

A dozen electric cars from the Renault-Nissan Alliance will highlight the benefits of green transportation and will provide zero-emission shuttle services for delegates at the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, from 28 November to 9 December. The 17th annual Conference of Parties (better known as COP17) aims to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system."

Electric vehicles, which can be charged from purely renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind energy, aim to play a critical role in achieving COP17’s goals and reducing the impact of climate change.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance claims to be a world leader in electric-vehicle technology and the only car group worldwide offering a range of vehicles that consume no fuel whatsoever. The Renault-Nissan Alliance plans to sell 1.5 million zero-emission cars by 2016.

Nissan has already sold more than 20 000 LEAFs on three continents, reputedly making it the most popular EV in the world. Renault just began selling Kangoo Z.E., a light commercial vehicle. The Fluence Z.E. family sedan will go on sale shortly followed by Twizy, an urban 2-seater, and ZOE, a compact hatchback, next year.

Twizy sneak peak and test-drive opportunities

At COP17, the Alliance will offer test drives in the Renault Twizy, a fun-to-drive commuter vehicle that can be plugged into many conventional wall sockets. COP17 marks one of the first public test-drive opportunities for the Twizy, designed to be an antidote to the air and noise pollution plaguing some of the world’s biggest cities. Twizy test drives will take place at South Africa’s landmark Moses Mabhida Stadium throughout the conference.

COP17 will also offer a sneak peek of the Nissan LEAF, named World Car of the Year 2011, and Renault Fluence Z.E., a luxury sedan. Both cars will be on the streets as shuttles for COP17 delegates. They will also be available for test drives.

Anyone can sign up for test rides throughout the duration of the conference at the Alliance’s booth in the Climate Change Response Expo near Durban’s International Convention Centre. The test drive route will run from the Expo site to the Moses Mabhida Stadium and back.

Let the sun shine

South Africa aims to become the continent’s leader in clean-energy generation. The country hopes to build one of the world’s biggest solar power plants – an ambitious effort that would increase access to electricity while simultaneously reducing the region’s dependence on fossil fuels. Giant mirrors and solar panels would dot the Northern Cape province, which ranks in the sunniest 3% of regions worldwide.

"The Renault-Nissan Alliance applauds what South Africa and all the nations represented at COP17 are doing to reduce the threat to our environment and standard of living due to global warming," said Hideaki Watanabe, corporate vice president of the Zero Emission Business Unit at Nissan Motor Co, Ltd, and Renault-Nissan Alliance managing director, Zero Emission Business. "The Alliance wants to be part of the solution for a sustainable society. Our electric vehicles – which consume no fuel whatsoever – offer a real and affordable solution to drastically reducing CO2 emissions."

Nissan has announced plans to launch Nissan LEAF to South Africa in 2013, subject to the successful conclusion of discussions between the government and the motoring industry on the establishment of a charging infrastructure and the introduction of customer incentives.

By the end of the year, Renault will have two EVs on sale in Europe with two more due in 2012. Renault Kangoo Z.E., a light commercial vehicle, went on sale in Europe in October and has already generated more than 15 000 fleet orders in France. Sales of Fluence Z.E, a luxury family sedan, are due to start shortly. The Renault Twizy and compact Renault ZOE will arrive in showrooms in 2012.